Skip to comments."It can be a somewhat startling theme for western Christian ears..."
Posted on 12/27/2010 2:13:22 PM PST by NYer
George Weigel, in his most recent column ("Christmas, Jews and Christians"), takes up a theme near and dear to my heart:
Eastern Christian theology has long stressed theosis, or divinization, as the goal of the Christian life. It can be a somewhat startling theme for western Christian ears, formed as we are by Augustines sense of the distance that original sin created between humanity and God.
Yet if, as theologians East and West have long insisted, Christianity is not about our search for God (as so much pop-spirituality these days insists), but about God coming into history in search of us and our learning to take the same path through history that God is taking, then divinization makes perfect sense: for how could we follow God through history unless we became more and more like God?
Read the entire piece. Two years ago I wrote an essay, "Theosis: The Reason for the Season", in which I stated:
Theosis, deification, and adoptive sonship have received much attention in recent decades from Catholic theologians and scholars. Ressourcement theologians such as Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, and Jean Daniélou addressed them in a variety of books and articles. Recent books such as Divine Light: The Theology of Denys the Areopagite, by Dr. William Riordan, and Deification And Grace by Daniel Keating are scholarly studies worthy of attention.
Pope John Paul II's Trinitarian encyclicalsRedemptor Hominis, Dives in Misericordia and Dominum et Vivificantemoften emphasized divine adoption:
For as Saint Paul teaches, "all who are led by the Spirit of God" are "children of God." The filiation of divine adoption is born in man on the basis of the mystery of the Incarnation, therefore through Christ the eternal Son. But the birth, or rebirth, happens when God the Father "sends the Spirit of his Son into our hearts." Then we receive a spirit of adopted sons by which we cry 'Abba, Father!'" Hence the divine filiation planted in the human soul through sanctifying grace is the work of the Holy Spirit. "It is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ." Sanctifying grace is the principle and source of man's new life: divine, supernatural life. (Dives in Misericordia, 52.2).
Coming full circle, the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers time and time again to the reality of theosis. "God created the world for the sake of communion with his divine life," it states, "a communion brought about by the 'convocation' of men in Christ, and this 'convocation' is the Church" (par 760). Through the sacraments we are made "children of God, partakers of the divine nature" (par 1692). The foundation of the moral life, the living out of the Christian calling, is found in the theological virtues: faith, hope and love, infused by the Holy Spirit. Those theological virtues "adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature" (par 1812). Our prayer to and adoration of the Father is rooted in divine adoption, for "he has caused us to be reborn to his life by adopting us as his children in his only Son" (par 2782).
Read my entire essay on Ignatius Insight. Also see:
The Dignity of the Human Person: Pope John Paul II's Teaching on Divinization in the Trinitarian Encyclicals | Carl E. Olson
The Liturgy Lived: The Divinization of Man | Jean Corbon, O.P.
Jean Daniélou and the "Master-Key to Christian Theology" | Carl E. Olson
Was The Joint Declaration Truly Justified? | An Interview with Dr. Christopher Malloy
Why Catholicism Makes Protestantism Tick: Louis Bouyer on the Reformation | Mark Brumley
Are Catholics Born Again? | Mark Brumley
BFL, gonna need some time to digest this one!
Catholics encounter ‘theosis’ in the Eastern Catholic Churches, where it is reflected in the prayers, hymns and especially the confessional. Unlike the Western Church with an emphasis on enumerating one’s sins, reconciliation in the Eastern Church places greater emphasis on personal reflection.
It doesn't have to be "either-or".
Thanks for posting... I have a lot of reading to do now...
Sounds like a lotta greek to me.
-—”for how could we follow God through history unless we became more and more like God?”-—
Lost me right there.
The pot cannot become the potter.
This is neo-pagan dogma drivel.
I thought that I was a bad RC for most of my childhood, when it turns out that I’m actually a bad protestant.
But I never thought that I would see this sort of drivel under any sort of RC banner.
But I kicked out after Vatican I, so, it’s been a while.
I know that you just posted it I mean no offense to you.
"Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim
That is a great quote and a cool tag line.
Here, let me help you: You're a child of God and He loves you.
Bernard of Clairvaux, the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila???
Idou theoro tous ouranous dianoigmenos kai ton uion tou anthropou ek dezion estata tou theou!
Of course not. The point is that we should imitate God, as Christ instructed us. Or do you consider Christ a neo pagan?
Here is another example of 'theosis'. While most people are preparing new year's resolutions, our (Eastern Catholic) priest reminded us that this week is a time for reflection on our relationship with God this past year. We begin by reflecting on and thanking God for all the gifts God has placed in our lives this year.
If you think about it, life is like a ladder. Each year we grow in wisdom and use it to work our way up that ladder by developing a deeper relationship with God while applying Christ's teachings in our relationships with others. Our lives should reflect God to others.
Pard I can only read the words that are on the page.
I am and will forever be unable to accept that men could ever “participate” in anything with the one true God.
It simply suggests an absurd to my mind level of even possible equality with HIM.
Christians do not “reach Nirvana”.
I find the entire concept of reaching a “Godshead” completely un-Christian.
Our Lord has given us a gift. We only accept or deny.
There is no equality in any way.
The only human who ever was or ever will be divine was Jesus.
HE paid OUR blood price demanded by the LAW of man and God.
Anyhow, just my .02, do as you will of course. This is still America right?
Sorry I meant to ping y’all also.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15
If adopted children of God and brothers of Christ, we become divine not by nature but by adoption and participation.
-—”If adopted children of God and brothers of Christ, we become divine not by nature but by adoption and participation.”-—
NO, we most certainly do NOT!
We humans can’t even be “good” let alone “divine”.
ONLY Jesus was ever, or ever will be, “divine”.
WE humans on the other hand can only be saved or lost.
WE humans are NOT, and CANNOT be saved by works.
Salvation is gift, granted by an infinite GOD to a flawed finite being.
There is no “divinity” possible in that finite being, in us.
The mere concept is absurd neo-pagan pride.
I want to make sure that you understand that I am not saying that the one true GOD could not make humans “divine” if HE wanted to.
BUT that is not the way that it is set up in scripture.
Folks such as you get all warm n fuzzy, and try to gloss over the hard parts of being of the Lord’s flock.
Check your pride.
Missed the point didn’t you. Protestants are radical Augustinians, and they depend heavily on HIS teachings on Original Sin. HIS version of what Paul said. But many Catholics also tend to follow the Jansenist doctrine which are not far removed from Calvinism.
Premise that Adams was a “divine” being, that is to say, God-like in a way that we are not but hope to be.
There is no divinity possible in that finite being, in us.
The mere concept is absurd neo-pagan pride.
St. Peter says you are wrong.
"For indeed his divine power has granted us all things pertaining to life and piety through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and power - through which he has granted us the very great and precious promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption of that lust which is in the world."
2 Peter 1.1-4
One way to understand Jesus’s prayer in the garden is that we should realize, in all senses of the word, that God is with us in our very being.
Sin is another way of saying separated from God. It is us who do the separating, not God.
The more we practice what Jesus preached, the closer we come to realizing God is closer to us than we are to ourselves - and the closer we come to being what God created us for.
Sin brings shame, and that is a message to us. But by turning away from sin we decrease our separation from God.
We will never become God. As they say: God is my being, but I am not God’s being.
Christ is Divine, we are part of the Body of Christ, never the head. Losing this connection, insisting on separation, not realizing our connection, forces us to live a lie, in sin, separated from God.
Humility means knowing our true place.
J — we do not become divine by any means. We become adopted Sons of God, but that does not imply divinity in any way. We are called to imitate closely God, to try to be as close to God’s ways as possible, but this does not confer divinity — the orthodox teaching does not imply that in any way.
Far from it. 2 Peter 1:4 says that we become "partakers of the divine nature" in and through Jesus Christ. Think about what that means. St. Athanasius said that "God became man so that man might become God". (NB: not "gods". He means that our destiny is to be so perfectly united to God so that we become one with Him.)
Even John Calvin wrote of it. In [I can't believe I'm actually doing this ...] Institutes Book II, section 12, he writes:
This will become still clearer if we reflect, that the work to be performed by the Mediator was of no common description: being to restore us to the divine favour, so as to make us, instead of sons of men, sons of God; instead of heirs of hell, heirs of a heavenly kingdom. Who could do this unless the Son of God should also become the Son of man, and so receive what is ours as to transfer to us what is his, making that which is his by nature to become ours by grace? Relying on this earnest, we trust that we are the sons of God, because the natural Son of God assumed to himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, bones of our bones, that he might be one with us; he declined not to take what was peculiar to us, that he might in his turn extend to us what was peculiarly his own, and thus might be in common with us both Son of God and Son of man.
No I sure didn’t “miss the point”.
I’M a “protestant” and I am not any MAN’S creature.
You RC’s have a real thing for labels.
The fact is that I as an individual SINNER need no mere man between me and OUR Lord.
If YOU do, more power to you.
Christianity is NOT a “religion” it is a personal relationship with the Lord.
Do as YOU will of course.
Sorry. I don’t buy it.
I don’t care what anybody but our Lord says.
I dont care what anybody but our Lord says.
You reject the words of St. Peter in scripture, because he is not the Lord?!?! Well, you reject the words of the Lord himself then, as he said: "He who hears you, hears me; and he who rejects you, rejects me; and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me."
Your position is condemned by our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ himself. All scriptures are inspired by God and the words of St. Peter I quoted are infallible scripture.
Are you on drugs?
I’M a PROTESTANT.
I don’t accept your RC dogma or traditions.
News Flash! The Bishop of Rome is NOT the absolute un-fallible leader of all CHRISTIANS on earth.
News Flash! We had several WARS over that, and WE Protestants won those WARS.
News Flash! I DON’T CARE what you RCs believe.
News Flash! YOU aren’t OUR Lord.
I didn’t want to be rude, but YOUR dogma is YOUR dogma, NOT mine.
And YES I am still a CHRISTIAN.
See you at the gate!
Spare me your RC machinations.
If I “partake” of a cup of coffee do I somehow BECOME coffee?
To “be saved” or become “one with God” doesn’t mean that we ourselves become divine.
BTW; there is NOTHING that you could ever say or do that would make me change my mind on this.
-—”we’re talking at cross-purposes. WnF — no one’s saying we become God. What is being said is as C put: so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, —> we little insignificant creations can commune with the Almighty — because HE wills it. We must try to follow our master in every way”-—
I’m sorry, but that is not true, some of these good folks are trying to claim that we mere humans become divine by accepting OUR Lord.
Other than that, I agree totally with your position.
How can you think you know about the Lord except that the Church has told you about him? Do you claim as, say, Joseph Smith did ,that God has spoken to you personally? Why should I believe you if you are making such a claim? My guess is that your faith in the Lord came to you through some missionary, whether that be a parent or a friend, who would therefore be a member of the Church. Is Christianity not a religion? The dictionary meaning of the word is Belief in a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe. Don’t see how Christianity, in any of its forms, does not fit that definition. Of course, we do believe as some do not that there is but one God and that he is a person.
What then does it mean to be saved but to become perfect as Our Father is perfect? To be perfect as Adam was once perfect. To become perfect as the 2nd Adam, Jesus, is perfect. A bridge joins two things. Our Lord bridges earth and heaven, because he is both man and God. He did not cease to be man when he rose from the dead but revealed himself also to be God.
John Cassian speaking of the cases of Paul the persecutor and Matthew the publican as difficulties for those who say "the beginning of free will is in our own power", and the cases of Zaccheus and the good thief on the cross as difficulties for those who say "the beginning of our free will is always due to the inspiration of the grace of God", and as concluding: "These two then; viz., the grace of God and free will seem opposed to each other, but really are in harmony, and we gather from the system of goodness that we ought to have both alike, lest if we withdraw one of them from man, we may seem to have broken the rule of the Church's faith: for when God sees us inclined to will what is good, He meets, guides, and strengthens us: for 'At the voice of thy cry, as soon as He shall hear, He will answer thee'; and: 'Call upon Me', He says, 'in the day of tribulation and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me'. And again, if He finds that we are unwilling or have grown cold, He stirs our hearts with salutary exhortations, by which a good will is either renewed or formed in us."
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Fathers commandments and abide in his love . . . This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. (John 15:10, 12-15)
I don’t get it, WnF — Cothrige quoted scripture, 2 Peter 1:1-4. and you said that you didn’t care about it. Why? Isn’t it scripture, infallible?
Sin is being where we ought not to be, which is outside the Garden. Christ opened the gate, but it is a narrow one.
Placemark for reading.
-_”How can you think you know about the Lord except that the Church has told you about him?”—
It’s called SCRIPTURE and PRAYER.
My Bible was NOT written by the RC church.
My Bible is the King James.
No it’s NOT a just a “religion” it’s a personal relationship with GOD.
Are all of you folks dim?
There was this little fracas that started in the 16 th century AD., maybe you have heard of it?
It is called the REFORMATION.
I NEVER told any of you people what or how to believe. That is not my task.
I guess that it’s too much to expect the same courtesy towards me.
Am I supposed to revisit the Reformation with y’all?
Do you think that the RC church would win THIS time?
I stated my considered opinion.
Deal with it.
“Perfect” is NOT “DIVINE”.
This isn’t rocket science.
There is no gnostic knowledge to be had here.
As I have stated before, if you discount the imo absurd concept of mere man becoming divine just by trying to be good or whatever, then I agree with what you say.
My problem here is with the concept of “earned” “divinity’.
Interesting info thanks.
So you think the Bible fell from the sky into Martin Luther’s lap? The Paris Bible, which was published by the thousands during the 13th and 14th centuries, was about the size of the Bible in the back of your pews. It was written on parchment in Latin, and was just the right size to be carried about by traveling preachers as a reference for sermons. Long before the Methodists, friars—men who were technically laymen— preached before large crowds in town squares as well as in local churches. The Bibles were in Latin, but every literate person read Latin, and every professor spoke it. No doubt that Martin Luther cut his spriptural teeth on the Latin Bible.
The KJV is derived in a large part from Catholic sources — you can check that up if you like.